Home > Resolving Issues > Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 15 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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I live in a semi..1920's with an alley/entryway between myself and the next semi. This entryway serves to access both our rear gardens by means of each of us having a gate. My neighbour who has mental health issues, (calls me the devil at times when abusing me) is hell bent on preventing me from using this alleyway by either threatening me verbally(for which I've had to get the police several times), blocking my way physically herself and having placed plants in tubs, wooden planks and even a bin to prevent my using my gate. This has been going on for about 3-4 years now and the police to date have been totally ineffective despite the fact that a few months back in the presence of witnesses and in a rage, she actually pushed me. Unfortunately she is a very fit lady in her 80's ...yes 80's!..but I've been told several times by her son that she suffers from delusions and that she doesn't take her meds and he can't make her..but surely if this is the case Social/Mental health services should be involved??... This I have emphasised to the police but to no avail. In addition to this even without giving her eye contact, she will even approach me on the street or on my on driveway will start accusing me of nonsensical things, shouting at me the whole time. However my entryway is a big problem for me as I now realise that if I'm unable to resolve this, I won't even be able to sell my property at this rate and don't know who to turn to for help. All the houses in the road of the same design have shared access to this (I've checked each household) snd tge 2 gates to each garden hsve been present since I bought the property so no changes made). The deeds unfortunately don't show the boundaries sufficiently and when I've called the land registry they weren't able to give me verbal confirmation that this is shared access. I'm at my wits end with this as commonsense would dictate and even the police agree that the entryway is for both our uses. Can anyone suggest any route I can go down in order to stop this woman from what the police have said is harassment and get this issue redolved as I'm finding it increasingly difficult yo even maintain my property and would be a health and safety issue in the case of and emergency should I need to exit my property via the garden for any reason. Help!
Millie - 15-Aug-17 @ 9:53 AM
PRR - Your Question:
Hi, we had to arrange an emergency repair on our roof and due to the roofers needing to cross the neighbour roof and put scaffolding on their land I went to see them. The owner is on holiday but gained permission from her 20 year daughter. Now the grandmother has kicked off saying thatvee should have waited as the daughter has no authority to provide the permission. Was I in the right to ask considering I had no contact details for the owner and we had no electricity due to water coming in through the roof?

Our Response:
It was an emergency and you didn't really have a choice, we think the courts would see it that way but to be sure you should seek legal advice if the neighbour decides to take it further.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-17 @ 12:26 PM
Hi, we had to arrange an emergency repair on our roof and due to the roofers needing to cross the neighbour roof and put scaffolding on their land I went to see them. The owner is on holiday but gained permission from her 20 year daughter. Now the grandmother has kicked off saying thatvee should have waited as the daughter has no authority to provide the permission. Was I in the right to ask considering I had no contact details for the owner and we had no electricity due to water coming in through the roof?
PRR - 3-Aug-17 @ 4:58 PM
Millie - Your Question:
We live in a single story barn conversion with the end bedroom wall being on the boundary between us and our neighbours. We noticed last week that they had planted some trees against this wall and went round to have a polite word with them about our concerns that the trees would damage our home. We were met with agression from the neighbour and although we kept calm and tried to reason with them, it fell on deaf ears. We were informed that the trees were infact hornbeam and they were planted right against our wall. What can we do now? Our house insurance is due shortly and there is a question about trees within so many metres of our property. If we lie we will be invalidating our insurance. If we fail to mention it we will also be in the same position. We have never had any problems with this neighbour although I know that our other neighbour has and as a result of much unpleasantness have decided to sell their house. We bought and converted this barn as our retirement home and are now faced with a problem. Any advice please.

Our Response:
You should mention the trees to your insurer but it's worth calling first to explain that they've only just been planted etc. If you are worried that the trees will damage your property, you should seek an opinion from an expert (surveyor and/or arboriculturalist) then you will have some professional evidence if you need to take legal action. If the trees are actually touching your wall you may be able take legal action to force your neighbour to move them on the basis of criminal damage/trespass.
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:34 PM
Hi I have a drop kerb between mine and my neighbours house. I have a drive my neighbour doesn't he has a path and a garden so now where to ask his property . I have had to start parking one of my cars in front of the dip as my neighbours wide keep parking so near the dropped kerb that I can't get off my drive. I have asked her to move over as she has a good 10 ft or more the other side of her that. I one parks in but she is just abusive when asked. If I pull up I cannot open my door and get out of my car to open my gate as she is parked so close . Is she causing an offence by doing this and do I have a right to get her to move her vehicle
Kal - 24-Jul-17 @ 7:17 PM
icjanie- Your Question:
Hi I am a private home owner living in my house for four years prior to our moving in the neighbour had erected a lean to between his house and the boundary fence the roof of which over hangs the boundary fence the previous owners of our home must have allowed this as there is guttering along the fence on our side under the over hanging plastic roof. Please can you tell me if we can asked for the over hanging roof to be remove to behind our neighbours fence I ask as the gutter is not maintained his down pipe is blocked both of which are causing all of the water from his house roof and lean to roof to pour down onto our side/land between the two properties leaving the ground sodden along the side of our property I'm am concerned about damp issues as our property was built in 1934 thank you

Our Response:
If planning permission/the extension was already in place before you purchased the property, this is something that should have been picked up on during the conveyancing process. If the previous neighbours agreed to the overhang, there's not much you can do about it now. Discuss this with your neighbours and see if you come to some mutually acceptable solution to the problem.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-17 @ 11:42 AM
Bunny - Your Question:
We are renting and our bungalow is one of the ends of a row of 4 attached bungalows we all have back doors into our own back gardens. Our bungalow as well as the other end also has our front and back gardens connected through a strip of our garden that goes down the side of our properties. When we first moved in there was no mention of any access down the side of the bungalow we moved in 2010 but in the last couple of years ( due to problems with the neighbour) we were told that it was emergency access (we thought that meant emergency services and if any emergency work needed to be done to the other properties they can use that access) but last week we were told that it is now open access and anyone can use it at for any purpose at any time. What can we do. This issue came about because we wanted to put up a gate down the side of the bungalow to make it secure for our kids and that the neighbour doesn't ask for permission before he gets his gardener and now his window cleaner to use the access.

Our Response:
If you are renting, you will need to speak with your landlordwho will have all the information relating to the access within the title deeds for the property.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-17 @ 11:13 AM
Kel - Your Question:
I'm trying to grown my headge up for some privacy but twice the new neighbors have cut the whole headge down ! I was just wondering do we have a right to grow our side ?

Our Response:
Is the hedge mentioned in the deeds? It may indicate who is responsible for maintaining it. If it belongs to you and is on your side of the boundary, your neighbours can only trim any overhanging branches, they cannot reduce the height of it. If it's actually your neighbour's hedge the neighbour can do as they like with it and your only option would be to grow you own hedge on your side of the boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-17 @ 10:24 AM
We live in a single story barn conversion with the end bedroom wall being on the boundary between us and our neighbours. We noticed last week that they had planted some trees against this wall and went round to have a polite word with them about our concerns that the trees would damage our home. We were met with agression from the neighbour and although we kept calm and tried to reason with them, it fell on deaf ears. We were informed that the trees were infact hornbeam and they were planted right against our wall. What can we do now? Our house insurance is due shortly and there is a question about trees within so many metres of our property. If we lie we will be invalidating our insurance. If we fail to mention it we will also be in the same position. We have never had any problems with this neighbour although I know that our other neighbour has and as a result of much unpleasantness have decided to sell their house. We bought and converted this barn as our retirement home and are now faced with a problem. Any advice please.
Millie - 19-Jul-17 @ 9:28 PM
Hi I am a private home owner livingin my house for four years prior to our moving in the neighbour had erected a lean to between his house and the boundary fence the roof of which over hangs the boundary fence the previous owners of our home must have allowed this as there is guttering along the fence on our side under the over hanging plastic roof. Please can you tell me if we can asked for the over hanging roof to be remove to behind our neighbours fence I ask as the gutter is not maintained his down pipe is blocked both of which are causing all of the water from his house roof and lean to roof to pour down onto our side/land between the two properties leaving the ground sodden along the side of our propertyI'm am concerned about damp issues as our property was built in 1934 thank you
icjanie - 17-Jul-17 @ 1:24 PM
We are renting and our bungalow is one of the ends of a row of 4 attached bungalows we all have back doors into our own back gardens. Our bungalow as well as the other end also has our front and back gardens connected through a strip of our garden that goes down the side of our properties. When we first moved in there was no mention of any access down the side of the bungalow we moved in 2010 but in the last couple of years ( due to problems with the neighbour) we were told that it was emergency access (we thought that meant emergency services and if any emergency work needed to be done to the other properties they can use that access) but last week we were told that it is now open access and anyone can use it at for any purpose at any time. What can we do. This issuecame about because we wanted to put up a gate down the side of the bungalow to make it secure for our kids and that the neighbour doesn't ask for permission before he gets his gardener and now his window cleaner to use the access.
Bunny - 17-Jul-17 @ 12:46 PM
I'm trying to grown my headge up for some privacy but twice the new neighbors have cut the whole headge down ! I was just wondering do we have a right to grow our side ?
Kel - 17-Jul-17 @ 4:53 AM
Art - Your Question:
We have lived in our property for 12 years. The properties are subjected to very high winds so we erected a fence along our boundary that allowed the wind to pass through it. The fence was erected in our property. The boundary was defined by concrete posts and wire mesh which were now on the neighbours side. New neighbours arrived 6 months ago and recently while we were out they filled in the gaps in the fence, which is on our property, with planks of wood.They have since started to remove the link fencing and concrete posts.They have also built a wood shed with the corner of the shed fixed to our fence on our land.They have not asked us, they just do it and don't want to talk about it.Do we have any other action than going to Court.With thanks.Art.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, if the neighbours are unwilling to discuss this with you, court might be your only option. You should consider using some form of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation first.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jul-17 @ 11:57 AM
We have lived in our property for 12 years. The properties are subjected to very high winds so we erected a fence along our boundary that allowed the wind to pass through it. The fence was erected in our property.The boundary was defined by concrete posts and wire mesh which were now on the neighbours side. New neighbours arrived 6 months ago and recently while we were out they filled in the gaps in the fence, which is on our property, with planks of wood. They have since started to remove the link fencing and concrete posts. They have also built a wood shed with the corner of the shed fixed to our fence on our land. They have not asked us, they just do it and don't want to talk about it. Do we have any other action than going to Court. With thanks. Art.
Art - 5-Jul-17 @ 5:35 PM
Millie67 - Your Question:
I live at the end of a terrace of 4 houses. My neighbours moved to Australia many years ago and their house is currently rented out. The wooden fence between our properties has been gradually decaying over the past 5 years and in February two of the panels blew down completely in a storm. Our garden is now overlooked and insecure (people can access our garden via our neighbour's, and thus bypass our security light). I've contacted the rental agents in person and by logged a complaint on their website and I've not had a response from them. Whenever we see our neighbour, she tells us that she's chasing them but to be honest I'm not sure that she is - she's told us before that she's worried about asking them to do work on the property (even basic maintenance work like clearing the guttering!) as she thinks they'll put up the rent! Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
Firstly check that responsibility for the fence lies with the neighbouring property (your deeds will say). You should also check whether there are any conditions to maintain a fence at all...in law in general, there is no obligation fence one's land. If the latter is the case, there's not much you can except to construct a fence of your own on your side of the boundary?
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Jun-17 @ 12:49 PM
I live at the end of a terrace of 4 houses.My neighbours moved to Australia many years ago and their house is currently rented out.The wooden fence between our properties has been gradually decaying over the past 5 years and in February two of the panels blew down completely in a storm.Our garden is now overlooked and insecure (people can access our garden via our neighbour's, and thus bypass our security light).I've contacted the rental agents in person and by logged a complaint on their website and I've not had a response from them.Whenever we see our neighbour, she tells us that she's chasing them but to be honest I'm not sure that she is - she's told us before that she's worried about asking them to do work on the property (even basic maintenance work like clearing the guttering!) as she thinks they'll put up the rent!Is there anything I can do?
Millie67 - 23-Jun-17 @ 4:33 PM
Hi there I purchased my mid terraced home from my local council 3 years ago, 2 years after I moved in. We have lived here for 5 years in total and our neighbours moved in 2 weeks before we did. My issue is that my neighbour is a builder and continually is heard outside working on his garden until 10-11pm in the evening, we are talking heavy machinery used to lay slabs and build fences. He has built and then relayed monoblocking 4 times in the past year. Earlier this week I was in my garden and noticed that my neighbour has removed half of the hedge which is a boundary between our properties, this means what was previously a thick lusterous hedge which gave privacy in both sides is now a complete mess, i can see right through it and I have a young baby who would easily fit through the hedge completely in at least 5 places, not to mention either my or my neighbours dogs. I dont want to start an argument with them but this is getting unnacceptable. Today i walked into my back garden to find it completely flooded as my neighbour had emtied a full paddling pool in their garden and as it is artificisl grass the water just flows directly into mine. Their property is still owned by the local authority what should i do?
Caf013 - 29-May-17 @ 12:30 PM
Hi there I purchased my mid terraced home from my local council 3 years ago, 2 years after I moved in. We have lived here for 5 years in total and our neighbours moved in 2 weeks before we did. My issue is that my neighbour is a builder and continually is heard outside working on his garden until 10-11pm in the evening, we are talking heavy machinery used to lay slabs and build fences. He has built and then relayed monoblocking 4 times in the past year. Earlier this week I was in my garden and noticed that my neighbour has removed half of the hedge which is a boundary between our properties, this means what was previously a thick lusterous hedge which gave privacy in both sides is now a complete mess, i can see right through it and I have a young baby who would easily fit through the hedge completely in at least 5 places, not to mention either my or my neighbours dogs. I dont want to start an argument with them but this is getting unnacceptable. Today i walked into my back garden to find it completely flooded as my neighbour had emtied a full paddling pool in their garden and as it is artificisl grass the water just flows directly into mine. Their property is still owned by the local authority what should i do?
Caf013 - 26-May-17 @ 10:18 PM
Hi there I purchased my mid terraced home from my local council 3 years ago, 2 years after I moved in. We have lived here for 5 years in total and our neighbours moved in 2 weeks before we did. My issue is that my neighbour is a builder and continually is heard outside working on his garden until 10-11pm in the evening, we are talking heavy machinery used to lay slabs and build fences. He has built and then relayed monoblocking 4 times in the past year. Earlier this week I was in my garden and noticed that my neighbour has removed half of the hedge which is a boundary between our properties, this means what was previously a thick lusterous hedge which gave privacy in both sides is now a complete mess, i can see right through it and I have a young baby who would easily fit through the hedge completely in at least 5 places, not to mention either my or my neighbours dogs. I dont want to start an argument with them but this is getting unnacceptable. Today i walked into my back garden to find it completely flooded as my neighbour had emtied a full paddling pool in their garden and as it is artificisl grass the water just flows directly into mine. Their property is still owned by the local authority what should i do?
Caf013 - 26-May-17 @ 10:18 PM
Juls - Your Question:
I own a semi detached house with a public lane alongside it, my neighbour parks his van 2-3inches off my extension wall every day during daytime hours. I need to paint and clean out the guttering but cannot get near the extension because of his van. I am verbally abused if I ask him to move it. What are my rights?

Our Response:
Decide which of several dates you would like to do the work. Leave a note on your neighbour's car or pop through his letter box if you know where he lives and say that you need access on one of the dates and could they let you know which one of those is convenient and be sure not to park there. If there is no response, or they refuse, you could ask your local police to get the owner to move his vehicle while you undertake the work. If all that fails, a court order might work.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-May-17 @ 1:54 PM
I own a semi detached house with a public lane alongside it, my neighbour parks his van 2-3inches off my extension wall every day during daytime hours. I need to paint and clean out the guttering but cannot get near the extension because of his van. I am verbally abused if I ask him to move it. What are my rights?
Juls - 23-May-17 @ 6:43 PM
Hi We bought our house a year ago. Replaced fence panels all around the house. Our neighbours neighbouring with our fence side told us now that they want the fence straightened out as the previous owner had it placed around some existing sheds which means it's slightly crooket at one place. We are talking about a couple of inches apparently over their boundary.... We are happy to straighten it although our concern is that they have paved up to the fence which means we will have to dig through the paved area to straighten it...who should rectify this for them if they request this fence to be straighten? Thanks
Lfw - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:12 PM
greg001 - Your Question:
3 years ago I bought house, two weeks after moving I received letter from my neighbour that wall dividing our lands is his and I can't attach nothing on his wall. Between my property wall and his wall is 1.7m gap. So I installed there shed. 7 months ago I replaced old shed for new one. And I received again letter from neighbour that I should install gutters. Gutters was installed immediately. In this case I replayed to him that his wall is leaning on my site. then he started blame me that is my sheds fault, because my shed didn't have water disposal and I need fix his wall. But my sheds had gutters and water disposal. Water disposal was targeted into my property wall 1.5m from his wall. Also I have photo,taken when I moved, that showing leaning wall. Do I need fix his wall?

Our Response:
No, it doesn't sound like it. Ask him for an "expert" report on the reasons for the wall leaning and then you can make an informed decision.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Apr-17 @ 12:40 PM
3 years ago I bought house, two weeks after moving I received letter from my neighbour that wall dividing our lands is his and I can't attach nothing on his wall. Between my property wall and his wall is 1.7m gap. So I installed there shed. 7 months ago I replaced old shed for new one. And I received again letter from neighbour that I should install gutters. Gutters was installed immediately. In this case I replayed to him that his wall is leaning on my site. then he started blame me that is my sheds fault, because my shed didn't have water disposal and I need fix his wall. But my sheds had gutters and water disposal. Water disposal was targeted into my property wall 1.5m from his wall. Also I have photo,taken when I moved, that showing leaning wall. Do I need fix his wall?
greg001 - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:43 PM
Stacey - Your Question:
I bought a house last year. The bottom end of my driveway is shared access with neighbour. The neighbour has a very small drive. They have block paved in a curved line over my driveway. This was done before I bought my house. And they told my solicitor this was to make there drive aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I want to have my drive redone can I make them take their block paving up to give me back my drive and reinstate the visual boundary. Also they moan at me for parking on my drive as it makes it difficult for them to get off there drive but it is actually there van that is blocking them in not my car. They just want to drive over the end of my driveway to get off there drive instead of moving there own van

Our Response:
If it's a shared access driveway at the end, neither of you should be parking there anyway. With regards the part where you can park you should discuss this with your neighbour. If they have already agreed that they have paved over the boundary, what did the solicitor say about future works to either driveway? We're presuming you asked about something as obvious as this at the time.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Mar-17 @ 2:30 PM
I bought a house last year. The bottom end of my driveway is shared access with neighbour. The neighbour has a very small drive. They have block paved in a curved line over my driveway. This was done before I bought my house. And they told my solicitor this was to make there drive aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I want to have my drive redone can I make them take their block paving up to give me back my drive and reinstate the visual boundary. Also they moan at me for parking on my drive as it makes it difficult for them to get off there drive but it is actually there van that is blocking them in not my car. They just want to drive over the end of my driveway to get off there drive instead of moving there own van
Stacey - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:04 PM
I live and own a middle terrace house of three, i have an access path that goes from my bottom of garden all the way round to the front of my neighbours house and to the street owned path, there is a side gate we both have access too but its all my land, The path at the front my neighbours bought a big van and often park it on my path, could i errect a fence and a another gate here to still give them access to their garden but stop them parking and driving on the path? They have a drive of their own which fits 2 cars. They are not neighbours i can speak with an have an adult conversation with
gemfairy - 8-Jan-17 @ 11:29 PM
I have a pice of land which majure in 2 and 3times before 20years. But our neighbour claim for him that his land part in my field. Few days measure an Amin this field and Find a peace of field in our boundry line. So i wish that you give me a real advise that what am i donig.
giri - 2-Jan-17 @ 2:03 PM
I live in a terraced house and our next door neighbour has put up lights on the side of our garge which faces his house. He siad that wall faceing his house is his. Is this correct?
Fey - 30-Dec-16 @ 7:17 PM
My neighbours have been a nightmare since day 1....we live in a semi detached house and our neighbours have recently put up a sort of tube if xmas lights wrapped right around our shared fence between both houses....the lights are very annoying as they are flashing lights that come through my window when i am trying to watch my telly it is very irritating could someone tell me if i have the right to go and take them down myself and also if they by law were supposed to check with me first before putting them up
Toot - 6-Dec-16 @ 9:47 PM
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